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Does enforcing gender specific behavior, appearance and attitude, also enforce sexism?

I believe so. I believe that teaching children that "this is a girl thing, and that is a boy thing" reenforces the idea that they are not equal or that they can't do everything the other can. And frankly, besides actually giving birth and breastfeeding, there isn't anything that one can do that the other can't...

What are your thoughts?

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Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 11:22 PM on Jun. 9, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (18)
  • I think men and women are fundamentally different and it goes way beyond the vagina and the boobs. But I also don't believe there is any reason why a boy can't play with dolls or a girl have a foam sword and play in a fort. My kids share boy/girl toys and are growing up in a household where mommy mows the lawn and takes the trash out while daddy cooks their dinner. So flexible gender roles are good, but sexual differences are real and very important.

    Answer by judimary at 11:25 PM on Jun. 9, 2011

  • I agree with you. I let my daughter and son play with what ever they want and dress in what ever they want. I never say its a girl thing or boy thing to them.

    Answer by mommy_of_two388 at 11:26 PM on Jun. 9, 2011

  • I guess I disagree, but not fully. I think there are some things that make men and women different. I honestly feel that the majority of women can not physically be as stong or fast as the majority of men but there will always be some exceptions. Just like I feel women tend to be more nurturing then men, again, you will have exceptions. And I don't think I would say enforcing gender behaviors goes alone with enforching sexism. But our opinions of sexism may be different. I feel sexism is saying one sex is better then the other. If you are telling a girl to wear pink and a boy blue that isn't forcing them to think boys are better then girls because they wear blue...maybe I am taking what you are saying wrong. But no, I don't think gender specific behavior sparks sexism. I do think sexism sparks gender specific behavior (sometimes not always!!).

    Answer by ILoveCade at 11:28 PM on Jun. 9, 2011

  • Okay, but teaching sexual (or physically gender) differences and teaching gender specific roles are two different things. I mean, I'm not teaching my daughter to stand and pee - although frankly, I can, so I don't know why she COULDN'T if need be. And obviously without surgery they are going to be physically different. But there isn't anything that one can do that the other can't...

    To me, when we teach boys that they must wear blue or that they can't wear pink, we are in fact telling them they can't do what a girl can - and visa versa. Even though there is nothing wrong with a boy in pink, he simply can't because it's a "girly" color (even though this girl won't be caught dead in it). Which to me is the basis of sexism. If boys and girls can't wear the same colors what else can't they do the same? Jobs? Sports? Housework?

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 11:35 PM on Jun. 9, 2011

  • My son wears whatever he wants, no matter the color, lol. Same with me. And my husband wears pink sometimes (we once had a little kid in a store ask their mom why that daddy was wearing a pink shirt, lol). I think there is a difference between letting your kids wear a certain color or playing with a toy and teaching them they can't do what the other sex can. I look back at baby pics. of myself and see cute little pink dresses and shoes but my parents brough me up to play sports and clean the house. I don't know, I guess I feel like sexism comes more from the parents and what they say opposed to what they let their kids wear or do. I see what you are saying, but I don't think I would go so far as to say bringing your daughter up to wear pink will make her think she needs to be a SAHM and never play basketball.

    Answer by ILoveCade at 11:46 PM on Jun. 9, 2011

  • Yes. No two ways about it. It is about celebrating a person and the interests, roles, and passions each individual has. What it all boils down to is fear and ingnorance. Also being very closed minded that each person, each child, has the ability and right to choose their own preferences and norms. Your normal does not have to he my normal. We can be and do what is comfortable to each of us and still have respect.

    Answer by frogdawg at 12:03 AM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • I agree with you. Thankfully, my partner is on the same page as I am for this. Our son will get a dress in his closet when he begins choosing his own clothes- not that he has to wear it, but the option is there. Pink is already in his wardrobe.

    Answer by kit_manson at 6:40 AM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • ILoveCade - If clothing was the only aspect of gender role enforcement I would agree with you. I don't agree with people who won't let boys wear pink, but I don't think that in itself is going to turn him sexist. BUT, the fact is there is more to it than that. It starts first with the idea that only boys wear blue, then only girls take dance, then only boys get dirty, then girls can't drive trucks, and finally you end up with people who are very narrow minded about gender roles - which is sexism at it's best.

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 8:53 AM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • I have 2 boys and 2 girls. My son has worn pink, I actually thought my two oldest (boy and girl) looked very cute in matching green and pink stripped polo shirts.
    I'm sure there's only a select few who actually "enforce" gender specific behaviours. My girls love to wear dresses because they can twirl. My son loves to wear trackpants or trackshorts(as he calls them). Their choices. They all love to cook, both ds and dd were in the same dance class and soccer teams. They both chose to not do dance again, ds because he was the only boy and had to wear a "minnie" costume for the recital, dd because she wanted to try hockey with her brother, she didn't like it btw. Her little sister want's to play hockey this year so she's going to try it, she's also playing her first year of soccer and loves it!
    DS was given a doll and a truck, he would drive his doll around in the truck, but would often forget about the doll, wanted trucks

    Answer by AmandaH321 at 9:20 AM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • I hear what your saying, but your solution doesn't really work. We are women and we should embrace our strengths and work to overcome our weaknesses. You teach your kids this by setting an example in your own life. I am an electrician. I go to work everyday with steal toed boots and a tool belt, but when I get home I shower, put on a dress, and makeup. My purse and shoes allways coordinate! I am all woman. I will teach my baby girl to change a tire and I've allready started teaching my DSS9 to cook and clean. My DF does half the housework and we rotate who's making dinner every night. But believe me he is all man! I want my kids to embrace thier gender, but not be limited by it. It's about action, not presentation.

    Answer by Ms.Gwen at 10:05 AM on Jun. 10, 2011

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